For the first time in 17 years, two senior BCCI office-bearers — president Roger Binny and vice-president Rajeev Shukla — travelled to Pakistan and reached Lahore on Monday after crossing the Attari-Wagah, honouring the PCB’s invitation to watch Asia Cup there.
The last time an Indian cricket team travelled to Pakistan was in 2008 for the Asia Cup. Pakistan last hosted India for a bilateral series in 2006.
The BCCI had refused to send its team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, which led to a bi-nation ‘Hybrid Model’ arrangement. But in a heartening gesture, the BCCI approved former Test player Binny and Congressman Shukla’s participation in a dinner hosted by the Governor of Punjab province of Pakistan
“Pakistan is the host of Asia Cup. The visit by this delegation is purely cricketing and there is no politics involved. It is a two-day visit and the Governor of Punjab is hosting us for dinner and all three teams Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be present. We shouldn’t mix cricket with politics,” Shukla told mediapersons.
Shukla, who has been with the Indian cricket board for more than two decades, was a part of BCCI delegation that came for the historic ‘Friendship Series’ back in 2004.
Asked about the chances of resumption of bilateral cricketing contests, the Rajya Sabha MP said: “The decision with regards to bilateral series is taken by the Indian government and we would follow whatever the government suggests.” Binny recollected his last visit to Pakistan which incidentally was more than 16 years ago when he was a part of the Asian Cricket Council.
“My last visit of Pakistan was in 2006 when I was a part of Asian Cricket Council. Pakistan’s hospitality has been very, very good and we were treated very well,” said Binny.